Dimensional Design - a Holistic Approach to Garden Planning
Volume 2 Number 2 - October 2005
Dimensional Design is a holistic approach to garden education based on team effort (the team is key!). The team works together to develop programmes, horticulture and entomology displays, interpretation, communications, and amenities to support a theme each year. All staff develop ideas as a team creating one cohesive unit. The Dimensional Design process educates the public through three steps: Stratification (each year a theme is chosen on which to focus), Repetition (once a theme is chosen it is repeated through all areas of the garden), and Application (the theme is chosen and now repeated through the different areas). Brainstorming is an integral step within the Dimensional Design process and includes the following steps: search, share, select and schedule.
Reiman Gardens is a 14-acre garden located on the south side of the Iowa State University Campus in Ames, USA. It functions as an educational display garden that celebrates the natural and botanic diversity of Iowa, while drawing inspiration from the state’s agricultural traditions. Reiman Gardens began almost ten years ago with the seed of a twenty-year plan that was ultimately implemented in less than seven. The physical aspects of the gardens took precedence over education for many years, resulting in non-focused educational planning and the absence of collaboration between garden areas. Within the last three years, staff have developed a multi-disciplinary approach that focuses all garden areas with one theme.
The Dimensional Design process can be compared to a term paper, with each year representing the paper. The theme is the title (stratification), the different areas are the outline (repetition), and what reaches the public is the content (application). Everything that happens that particular year should support the theme. If one was to write a paper on buck roses, yet included a paragraph on dwarf conifers, it would not be focused and might confuse the reader. The gardens’ programmes, horticulture and entomology displays, interpretation and communications should work together the same way and not have individual areas venturing off on their own. Pieces that do not fit the whole are called ‘floaters’ and should be avoided if possible. The unique aspect of this approach is that it is carried out on an annual basis, rather than display-to-display. By working annually, all displays have interconnected sub-themes that also support the annual theme. The attached matrix chart shows this concept.
The Dimensional Design process educates the public through three steps:
Brainstorming is an integral step within the Dimensional Design process. The goal of these team meetings is to develop unique ideas that support the theme year. This process is important in creating new concepts in gardening. It challenges the team to think 'outside the box', so we can in turn enchant and educate the public by offering outstanding displays and programmes.
These meetings are broken down into four steps:
Dimensional Design Implemented
At this stage, the process is still in its infancy; but is gaining momentum. Reiman Gardens’ 2005 theme year, 'The Global Garden', is nearing the Dimensional Design ideal – which means that all programmes, displays, interpretation, and communications have one focus and build on each other. The ultimate goal would be that 100% of all areas follow the theme year. As we plan the next theme year, ‘The Art of Gardening’, we will continue to work towards this goal.
How has Reiman Gardens focused on 'The Global Garden' theme this year? Here is how one sub-theme, ‘The Origin of Corn’, is repeated in several areas:
It is important to remember that this is just one example of many sub-themes that will occur under the annual theme of 'The Global Garden'. Other sub-themes within horticulture (both inside and outside) include Japanese Rock Garden, French Parterre Garden, French Potager Garden, Mediterranean Garden, Topiary Display, Butterfly Safari, Orchid Display, Garden of Abundance (Italy), and Lights of St. Lucia (Scandinavia). Of course, these sub-themes are reinforced through all areas of the gardens. Together they create a term paper that focuses on one theme and the public is educated on another dimension of the garden while experiencing a wonderful journey in the process.
Le Modèle dimensionnel est une approche complète de l’éducation dans les jardins basée sur les efforts d’équipe (l’équipe est la clé !). L’équipe travaille ensemble pour développer des programmes, des démonstrations d’horticulture et d’entomologie, l’interprétation, la communication et les agréments du lieu pour soutenir un thème chaque année. Tout le personnel développe des idées en tant qu’équipe créant ainsi une unité en cohésion. La démarche de Modèle dimensionnel éduque le public à travers trois étapes ; la Stratification (chaque année un thème est choisi sur lequel on se concentre), la Répétition (une fois le thème choisi, il est répété à travers toutes les zones du jardin), et l’Application (le thème est choisi et ainsi répété dans les différentes zones). Le brassage d’idées est une étape intégrale de la démarche du Modèle dimensionnel et inclut les étapes suivantes : Recherche, Partage, Sélection et Programme.
Diseño dimensional es una visiόn holística a un jardín educativo basado en esfuerzo de equipo (el equipo es la clave!). Los equipos trabajan juntos para desarrollar programas, exhibiciones de horticultura y entomologia, interpretaciόn, comunicaciόn, y amenidades para apoyar un tema cada año. Todo el personal desarrolla ideas, cόmo un equipo creando una unidad coehisiva. El proceso de Diseño dimensional educa al público a través de tres pasos: Estratificaciόn (cada año se escoge un tema sobre el cual se enfocará), Repeticiόn (una vez que el tema es escogido, es repetido en todas las areas del jardín), y Aplicaciόn (el tema escogido se repite a través de diferentes areas). Lluvia de ideas es un paso integral dentro del proceso de Diseno dimensional e incluye los siguientes pasos: Busca, Comparte, Selecciona y Programa.
About the Author
Lisa Orgler is the Assistant Director of Planning & Programs, Reiman Gardens, Iowa State University,1407 Elwood Drive, Ames, Iowa 50011, USA. Tel: (515) 294 2710. Fax: (515) 294 4817
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